The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world

The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world

DREW FORTIER talks TO THE ROCKPIT EXCLUSIVELY

about his new BANG TANGO Documentary

 

Check out the Theatrical Trailer below - then read the interview!

 

 

 

 

 

 

For those that don't know one of my favourite bands is the subject of an upcoming documentary by film-maker Drew Fortier. The band? - Bang Tango were in my honest opinion were one of the most talented and original bands that got buried among the wannabe Poisons and Gunners clones that strode the strip in the late eighties and early nineties.

 

If you want to hear a band to turn your perception of those times around pick up 'Love After Death' - their great 'lost' masterpiece. The great thing about Bang Tango though is that led by Joe Leste - they never really stopped. Drew's Documentary tells the story of the band then and now and should be essential viewing . But I'll let Drew tell you all about that...

 

 

 

 

 

Mark: Tell us about the Bang Tango Documentary you are working on at the moment: why Bang Tango? What is your relationship with the band and why a Documentary now?

 

 

Drew: It all kind of happened on accident, I was working at a club on the Southside of Chicago at the time, this was June of 2011, and my boss came to me and said “Hey Drew, we might be getting Bang Tango to play here soon, what do you think?” and I was like “Hell yeah! I remember those guys!"(my older brother, George was a fan of theirs, so I was very familiar with them while i was growing up) then I proceeded to pump like 20 bucks into the juke box every night I worked, blaring the whole psycho cafe record over the bar to prepare people for the awesomeness to come.
So the big day comes and my boss purchased a little zoom video recorder that day, and asked me to walk around and have people talk about the club, Bang Tango, etc. The band gets there and we just hit it off immediately. We were drinking, having a good time, bullshitting. Then Joe Leste' was really drawn to the little camera I had, asking questions about it etc. then says “Hey man, we’re recording a new album in Chicago in a few weeks, you should come by and document the whole thing!” so I, of course, ordered another round of shots and agreed enthusiastically.

 

 

Also it just so happened a few weeks prior to this event, i purchased a small fortune in film and audio equipment. My closest friend and now Producer Joe Placzkowski and I planned on shooting something that summer, we didn’t know what though. But as the fates would have it, it would turn out to be The Bang Tango Movie. (laughs).

 

 

As for my relationship with the current band, I consider them close friends of mine. We have shared many a good times together, and will no doubt always be a big part of my life.

 

 

As for my relationship with the original members, it’s the same deal, amazing people, Mark Knight is a close friend of mine, and Tigg is one of the funniest people in the world without a doubt. Kyle Stevens and Kyle Kyle are also terrific people. I am so privileged that I know them. It’s a true honor to know these people.

 

 

As for why Bang Tango... and not Faster Pussycat, or Kix?  Bang Tango, unfortunately, got lumped into the whole Hair Band genre, sometimes even the Glam Band Genre, which, at the time was a hard accusation to avoid since everything out there at the time was Hair and or Glam bands. But in reality Bang Tango were a straight up rock band, like a Zeppelin or a Sabbath. They didn’t just go up and play; they took those songs and rocked the fuck out of them. Check out ‘Attack of Life’ live back in the day, that monster would last almost 10 minutes long when they would play it.

 

 

So I hope this documentary is a good opportunity to show the world that Bang Tang is a band that should have been, and still could be.

 

 

The whole goal for this movie is to appeal to, not only fans of the band, but people who are fans of being entertained. I believe that there is a good enough story here to appeal to more of a mass audience, even if you’re not a fan of Bang Tango, you will enjoy this.

 

 

 

 

Mark Knight plays Midnight Struck from the Dancin' On Coals album

 

 

 

 

Mark: What attracted to you about the Bang Tango story in particular?

 

Drew: Bang Tango never achieved the success that they truly deserved. It seems like just as things were going good for them, they were about to come out with their quintessential rock album that would have totally put them over like crazy, the album ‘Love After Death’, but due to label issues (more on that in the movie) the album never got to come out in the States, only in Europe and Japan I believe. Which is a crying shame because had this monster of an album came out in the States, Bang Tango would have been a household name. In Europe, I believe, the album was ahead of Megadeth’s Youthanasia on the charts. In my opinion with tracks like ‘My Favorite 9’, ‘Feelin’ Nothin’, ‘Live on the Moon’, ‘Crazy’, it would be impossible for these guys not to have had a couple top charting singles with this album. That’s one of the main things that attracted me to the project.

 

 

Also the personalities of these guys was another reason to do this. A guy like Joe Leste’ is such a character, you never know what he’s gonna do or say when your around him. He is so much fun to be around and such a good guy. I caught a lot of great moments on camera that you will get to see in the flick. Same goes with Lance, Trent and Scotty.

 

 

Mark Knight like all the others, is terrific as well, gave me one of the most insightful interviews, and an amazing time in L.A. when he flew me out there back in June to shoot video for his current project Mark Knight and the Unsung Heroes, who are working on an album entitled ‘Roadsick Eyes’, which from what I have heard, sounds absolutely amazing so far.

 

 

 

 

 

Mark: You are preaching to the converted there ‘Live After Death’ has always been one of my favourite albums from back in the day and one I keep coming back to. I was lucky to hear at least part of it live when Mark played the Bang Tango Redux shows in 2010, which was when I first met Mark. I think I missed you by a week in LA when I went over to see Mark and listen to some of the unfinished tracks from the Unsung Heroes.  Now that is something I’m looking forward to and all the guys are so cool.   

 

 

 

 

Mark: How do you approach a project like this one? Do you have a plan going in or a particular angle or are you looking for the story to reveal itself as you speak to people?

 

Drew: Originally this project was actually supposed to only be a 20 minute web only studio documentary, but I started digging deeper and learning about the story of Tango, and knew that I had to expand on that. I then got a hold of Mark Knight, who just so happened to be in Chicago at that time, and we met up, he gave an amazing interview and became a lifelong friend. So over the last year, I’ve been goin’ to Tango shows, shooting’ interviews with fans, the band doin wacky stuff of course, and Mark got me in touch with the rest of the original members of the band.

 

 

There was no particular angle going into this, it was like a discovery every time I talked to one of the original band members, it’s a great story that definitely needs to be told.

 

 

 

 

 

Mark: What sort of background in film making do you come from?

 

 

Drew: Not much actually (laughs) I never went to film school or anything like that, I learned everything first hand and on the fly. I went on tour with DCI (Drum Corps International) when I was 19, I was a camera operator for them, learned a lot about all that stuff, and it was an amazing experience. Then after that I moved out to L.A. and was a P.A. for a long while, which was also a lot of fun, I learned a ton about all that as well. But mostly my background is my love for films... horror films to be more specific... B-horror films from the 80’s to be even more specific (laughs). My favorite movie of all time is C.H.U.D.

 

 

And with that, it wasn’t the movie itself, but what went on behind the scenes, and what it took to make an independent movie like that. So I became obsessed with behind the scenes documentaries growing up, and to me, that was my film school.

 

 

We have met some great characters along the way. We even met David Coverdale on accident once. We took a train to Kansas City to be there for Tango when they opened up for Whitesnake last year. We’re backstage and were told under no circumstances can we come in contact with Mr. Coverdale. We Obey. So Scotty Laflamme (Tango’s Current Guitar Player), Joe Placzkowski, and myself are walking around backstage and see David Coverdale walking towards us, so were all like “shit, what do we do..”

 

 

David Coverdale comes up to us, utterly joyful and goes “Ello!! moyy nayme is David Coverdale, What’s YOUR naymes?!” we all spit out our names, he goes “Oh well that’s fantastic!!! So noice to meet you!!” He was a super nice guy. Along with Brian Tichy who is a Zeppelin geek like myself. That whole experience made this project that more real, and fun. I just realized that story had nothing to do with my film background (laughs), sorry about that but it’s better to have more nonsense than less nonsense right?

 

 

Mark:  I think that’s what differentiates the interesting from the run-of-the mill and I’ll take a Sir David of Coverdale story any day whether in or out of context!

 

 

 

 

Mark: You’ve interviewed both current and past members of the band – how did the two groups differ in how they saw the music?

 

 

Well the current line up, from what i gather, love the music, and are big fans of the music, love playing the music etc. But are more focused on moving forward as a band, especially with their latest album “Pistol Whipped in the Bible Belt” which is a great rock album that everyone should check out.

 

 

(It is check out the Rockpit review by Todd here: http://www.therockpit.net/2011%20Reviews/Bang-Tango-Pistol-Whipped-In-The-Bible-Belt-CD-Nov-2011.php)

 

 

A lot of hard work and fun went into making that thing, they even had me play guitar on a track, ‘Live Life’, I do the lead parts during the chorus. They brought me in because Scotty, the guitar player was only scheduled out in Chicago for a certain amount of time due to the budget of the project and had to fly back to Mass. So much booze was consumed during those sessions at Johnny K’s Groovemasters. So much wacky shit. Thankfully I got most of it on camera for the movie. (laughs).

 

 

 

 

 

Mark: Wow ‘Live Life’ is my favourite track on that CD – I’ll never hear it the same again!

 

 

Drew: As for the original guys, the music will always be a big part of their lives. One thing they all have in common is that they all look at ‘Love After Death’ as like THE album. They worked their asses off on that. Joe and Mark were like Page and Plant when it came to a lot of the songwriting. As a collective they all created terrific music together. Just take ‘Live On the Moon’ for example. It’s almost like a piece of art. Just about every original member of Tango agree that’s one of their top favorite Tango songs of all time. It’s hard to put into words on how to describe the music of Live on the Moon... it just makes the hairs on your neck stand up.

 

Mark: Hearing that song live was the highlight musically of the Redux Show I saw. I think it’s one of those songs that really does show Bang Tango in a different light – there’s a huge amount of craft in that song – Brilliant!

 

 

 

 

Mark: Getting back to that question Joes’ point of view must have been particularly interesting. Did he see the whole Bang Tango story as a natural progression or as a play in several parts?

 

 

Drew: It was a very interesting view. He’s a road warrior to say the least. He loves to tour, he loves to play shows. His view on the whole story is a lil’ bit of a natural progression and a play in several parts. The way its gonna be presented in the movie will surely be a unique way.

 

 

 

 

Mark: Of the past members of the band I know that some have had and still do have careers in music outside the band did you turn up anything unusual or unexpected musically?

 

 

Nothing too unusual, Mark Knight has his Unsung Heroes band, which actually features former Bang Tango members. Tigg Ketler, who is the original Tango drummer is in there as well as Mark Tremalgia, who did a ton of touring with Tango in the 90’s. Also in Mark’s band is Reeve Downes from Rhino Bucket, on bass.

 

 

Kyle Kyle has a band called Mona Lisa Overdrive, which I think kicks a lot of ass.

 


And Kyle Stevens is going to be getting a trio together soon. I cannot wait to hear that, its going to kick ass.

 

 

Mark: I know Tigg had a punk band last time I met him – called ‘Shiner’ I’m not sure if he’s still playing with them though.

 

 

 

 

Mark: You mentioned that hanging with the current line up was so much fun, what story can we expect from the current Bang Tango – a story of life on the road?

 

 

Drew: It’s definitely going to be a life on the road story with the current line up. What they have to do going from show to show. I was just with them in Minnesota in July for Halfway Jam, which also had Trixter and Jackyl on the bill. Trent, Scotty, and I met up in Chicago, got a rental car, and drove to Minnesota and met up with Joe and Lance, so at that point there are 5 people jammed in a small sedan rental car with all of the equipment and luggage in the trunk and on our laps. That’s the life right there. That’s going to be one of the main stories for the flick: them on the road in a cramped rental car. That’s rock and roll (laughs). It was a terrific time though, had a lot of laughs and a lot of great stories to be told.

 

 

I also had the time of my life with the original guys. Hanging out with Mark and the Unsung Heroes was a blast. Not to mention Tigg is one of the funniest people I have ever met. I wish I could have had the camera on him a lot more.  Also their producer Tom Lavin had me stay with him and his family while I was out there, it was such a great time, and Tom and his family are such wonderful people. Friends for life for sure.

 

 

Mark: That was definitely the one of the highlights first time I met the guys: Tigg’s stories were awesome!

 

 

 

 

Mark: Who had the most interesting recollections of the early days and were any of the stories that were remembered after all these years at odds with each other?

 

 

Drew: Surprisingly a lot of their stories lined up verbatim. But of course a lot of stories were conflicting, which will be an interesting part of the movie. How many sides to the truth will there be? You have to watch to find out (laughs).

 

 

 

Mark: What did the band members think was the peak for the band and why did they think that first time around they didn’t get that really big break?

 

 

That’s all covered in the movie but ill give a little insight on that...

 

 

In a mainstream sense the peak would have to be when ‘Someone Like You’ became such a success. Their peak musically without a doubt would have to be ‘Love After Death’:  as for all of the details, you’ll just have to wait and watch!

 

 

 

 

Mark: What sort of influences did they site for their rather unique sound?

 

 

Kyle Stevens had a cool answer for this; it was all of their collective influences together. Everyone in the band was into so many different kinds of music and that really bled through with the song writing.  In my opinion Bang Tango was like a Led Zeppelin. If you take a song off of ‘Dancin’ on Coals’ and compare it to a song on ‘Love After Death’, it almost sounds like a totally different band musically. But at the same time you knew it was Bang Tango. Also like Zeppelin they were an Album kind of band rather than a Singles kind of band. If you sit down and listen to Psycho Cafe, it truly is a great album from front to back. Take any of the first 3 albums and you will realize that. But in my opinion ‘Love After Death’ takes the cake.

 

 

Mark: I hear you – I think that album band comment is definitely something I’ve always thought myself.

 

 

 

 

Mark: As far as influences go as a film-maker what sort of film are you looking to make.

 

 

Drew: I’m hoping it will be a mix between Anvil, Animal House, and something new. I’m hoping it will peak the interest of more than just Bang Tango fans. It’s going to be off the cuff, not so ordinary, and i just hope people will get it :)

 

 

 

 

Mark: Who can we expect to steal the show in the documentary?

 

 

Drew: If I had more footage of Tigg, without a doubt it would be him. He is absolutely hysterical. But I would say that Joe Leste’ has a lot of great moments in it.

 

 

 

 

Mark: How much of a labour of love is this film for you – were Bang Tango a big band for you?

 

 

Drew: It is a huge labour of love. This is been my life for over a year now, it has been a terrific time.

 

 

I have dedicated so much of my time for this, between shooting most of it, and about to edit this whole monster on my own. There is over 100 hours of footage that I’m still going through. But it’s for Bang Tango and I would do anything for those guys. A lot of credit is owed to Joe Placzkowski, without him this project probably would have ended up just being that 20 minute studio documentary.

 

 

Bang Tango is without a doubt a big band for me now, but when I was younger I owe credit to my older brother George, who was a big fan, for getting me aware of Tango at a young age.

 

 

But since I discovered ‘Love After Death’, I don’t think a day goes by where a song from that album is not stuck in my head (laughs).

 

 

Mark: Yeah, I’ve had that since about ’94!

 

 

 

 

Mark: When do you expect the documentary to be ready for an airing?

 

 

Drew: I just got almost everything I need interview wise for the movie: now I’m outlining and structuring everything so it makes sense. Then I gotta edit this monster, so I’m hoping to get it finished before the end of the year, we’re hoping to get it into film festivals if possible.

 

 

Mark: Now that would be awesome – I can see it running off with some major award at Sundance or Cannes!

 

 

 

 

Mark: What other Projects do you have lined up at the moment?

 

 

Drew: I’ve been doing a lot of music videos for local bands and rap artists. And there’s a few bands I’m looking at right now that I would like to propose to them a documentary idea. But eventually myself and Joe Placzkowski are going to shoot an action/horror/buddy comedy that he scripted years ago. It’s going to be a fun flick.

 

 

 

 

Mark: What do you hope the documentary will achieve? – for rock documentaries of some of the smaller bands we’re pretty starved – we had Penelope Spheeris’ film what seems like a million years ago now, then very little that stood out until Anvil. Are you looking more at the larger themes at play or really putting something out for the fans?

 

 

Drew: I’m hoping it will appeal to the masses as a good movie and not as just another band documentary. Hopefully it’ll show people that it’s never ever too late to achieve success, and to always be proud of what you have done in the past. Also Bang Tango deserves the notoriety and success they never got to fully achieve 20 years ago. What better time than now right?

 

 

 

 

Mark: What is your favourite Bang Tango musical moment?

 

 

Drew: Without a doubt ‘Love After Death’. More specifically there’s a few moments on that album that just makes the hair on my neck stand up... on ‘My Favorite 9’, after coming out of the solo, back into the main riff and right before the last chorus, the whole band stops... and Mark Knight just chugs the fuck out of his guitar, it sounds like a freight train is about to crash into a subwoofer that also happens to be on fire, Then it kicks into the final chorus, which is just absolutely infectious. It is without a doubt, for me anyways, the heaviest moment in music history.

 

 

Another moment, also from that album, is the music for ‘Live On The Moon’... if you just sit down with headphones and listen... it will put you in a trance. It’s so surreal. Very Zeppelinesque.

 

 

 

 

Mark: What about your current musical tastes who are you listening to and why should we listen to them?

 

 

Drew: Aside from the obvious (laughs) I’ve always been a huge fan of Killing Joke, Faith No More, Guns N Roses, Led Zeppelin, Ozzy, etc. and you should listen to them because there’s at least one or 2 songs anybody would enjoy from each of those bands!

 

 

 

 

Mark: If you could have been a fly on the wall for any special moment in rock history what would it be any why?

 

 

Drew: That’s a really good question. Hmmm. I’d say any Zeppelin show from the mid 70's

 

 

 

 

Mark: And finally the easy closer: What is the meaning of life? And is the secret revealed in the documentary!)

 

 

Drew: Another good question (laughs) I would have to say.... well I guess the meaning of life is revealed in the documentary. Live Life, and always be proud of what you have achieved and never give up on what you haven’t achieved yet.

 

 

 

Mark: Mate a pleasure to talk to you, I can’t wait to see this one on the big screen.

 

 

 

 

Mark spoke to Drew Fortier September 2012

 

By Mark Diggins